FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas Razorbacks did not win their 41st NCAA Championship Saturday in the Indoor Track and Field Championship, held at the Tyson Center, but second-year coach Chris Bucknam said the Hogs are inching closer.
The Razorbacks finished fifth with 38 points. Florida took the team title with 57 points, followed by Texas A&M and Oregon with 44, and LSU with 42. Arkansas' 38 points scored well ahead of sixth place Indiana, which tallied 25.
"We're inching closer," said Bucknam, who replaced retired legendary Razorbacks coach John McDonnell, who guided the program to 40 national championships. "I'm very, very happy with our performance. We overachieved. We came into the meet ranked eighth, and we finished fifth. We were in the competition for the top two."
Florida coach Mike "Mouse" Holloway said he was content with the 57 points his Gators tallied, but he would have liked more.
"I'm greedy," Holloway said with a broad smile. "I wanted 62 points, but the championship is great. Our guys really competed well and did the job."
Arkansas senior All-American Dorian Ulrey gained a bit of redemption Saturday night and earned his first NCAA championship. He ran away with the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:10.52 to score 10 points for the Razorbacks.
"I can't explain this feeling," Ulrey said after the victory. "It's been a long time coming. It took four years to get here, my last indoor race."
Friday night Ulrey led the final leg of the distance medley relay, but was passed in the final 200 meters to place second. Ulrey broke down and cried following the loss.
"I never understood why basketball and football players would cry after playing their last game," Ulrey said. "Now I understand. Last night, after the relay, I just broke down. I couldn't stop crying. I was going from hug to hug from family and friends and just couldn't stop."
Ulrey pulled himself together late Friday night.
"I took an ice bath and listened to my ipod," Ulrey said. "I came away determined to win the 3,000."
Ulrey led early, fell back a bit, but took the lead just a few meters before the bell for the final lap. Then he stretched his lead, leaving the rest of the field in his tracks.
"The pace was slow but that was fine with me," Ulrey said. "Midway, they pulled ahead of me, but I just wanted to stay around third or fourth. After every lap, I would look a Buck. He finally told me to go, and I took control."
Brede Ellingsen cleared 7-2.25 in the high jump to finish fifth and grab four points for the Hogs. Tarik Batchelor finished out of the points in the triple jump at 13th with a jump of 51-0.25.
The Razorbacks came into the day with 24 points. On Friday, Alain Baily won the long jump for 10 points, and Batchelor finished third in the event to score 6. Arkansas's distance medley relay time placed second for 8 points on Friday.
"We did really well," Bucknam said. "Two championships and a runner-up finish. We are getting there."
Lance Harter's Arkansas Lady Razorbacks tied for 15th with Arizona in the women's championship with 15.5 points.
Oregon dominated the event with 61 points, followed by Tennessee with 36, LSU with 35, Florida with 33 and Texas A&M with 31.
Arkansas' Katie Stripling cleared 14-1.25 to tie for fifth in the pole vault and added 3.5 points for the Lady'Backs.
Arkansas' 4x400-meter relay team of Edina Brooks, Shelise Williams, Whitney Jones and Regina George placed third with a time of 3:33.91 to add 5 points
Freshman Stephanie Brown, SEC 800-meter champion, placed sixth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:05.11 to pick up three points for the Lady Razorbacks.